Sunday, February 5, 2012


By: Cait 

As I laid down with Theodore tonight to get him to sleep, I couldn't help but get so frustrated over our current society's ideal of having independent children. I sometimes feel like I'm under constant scrutiny from other moms out there (including my own) of the way I am a mother. It must feel terrible to still be nursing your 2.5-yr-old when you are 34 weeks pregnant, to have formed a habit of him not falling asleep alone, to have him still in the bed with you!!! Oh, the horrors. We are told by parenting experts, pediatricians, friends, mommy bloggers that raising children is terrible and hard and we like unto climbing Mt. Everest and why would you ever want to make it harder? We don't want to breastfeed because it ties us down, we let our babies cry in isolation for hours at a time to teach them to sleep independently, we leave them in car seats and bouncers and swings rather than holding them so they don't become too attached to us. We don't want to spoil them, right?

I'll be the first to admit that my child is attached to me. Yes, he is still nursing. Yes, it is still mutually desired, he loves it, and (most days) the thought of not nursing him makes me terribly sad (we stopped for a week and it was really hard for me and him, so we gave up). Yes, we read and sing and lay with him every night until he is asleep. Yes, he crawls into bed with us in the middle of the night and stays there until morning. No, I don't find any of these things to be burdensome or annoying. 90% of the time, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know there were some periods when we weren't getting much sleep, when we tried to force him into a crib and sleeping on his own, when I was not happy with the situation and wanted to change things. 

Looking back, I realize now that most of that unhappiness with our situation was the thought that it would be like that forever. Like when he was 18 months old and still waking up all night to nurse, I thought if I didn't hate it and change it, he would do it forever. Well, two years old rolled around and we broke the habit pretty easily, and while he doesn't sleep "through the night" most nights, he wakes up and goes right back to sleep with very little coaxing. I know now that babies grow up, and whether we work hard to get them to conform to our ideals of how a baby should behave or whether nature takes it course and they grow older and their nervous systems mature and they sleep longer, and I won't be anxious and eager with this next little one but I hope I will be more content to savor the time she is my tiny baby, waking up with me at night and cuddling up next to me all day. I will have a running, jumping, laughing, talking preschooler in front of me to remind me that these moments will not last, and before I know it, she too will no longer need me so completely and desperately. 

And if sometimes I just want to lay on the couch and read a book instead of singing my toddler to sleep, I'll remember tonight when he shoved his face up against mine, whispered "I love you" and gave me a long kiss right smack on the lips. Because no amount of "me time" can beat that.




  1. You are a hero. Give me a call sometime soon, please!

  2. I feel the same way. They do grow and become more independent on their own just when you least expect it. This week my boy just up and decided he didn't want me lay next to him while he goes sleep anymore. Now he keeps telling me to leave and he can go to sleep him self. I thought this would never happen. I feel so unneded :).

  3. I wrote a long comment and the internet swallowed it. So the gist of it was: Yeah.

    I'll add that I think it's a woman's instinct to keep her babies close but as more and more "information" as come out about child-rearing women get confused and start doubting themselves and yielding to the experts... now we have a new generation of women who's been parented this way and they just don't even know the difference. A lot of the women I talk to at work are almost asking for permission to parent.

  4. I completely agree and I think it's crazy. But i think the most important thing is to try to ignore all of the people around you. It feels like these days if you do anything different from someone else the person is "offended" but i think it's just immaturity and insecurity. God gave your Theo and (soon-to-be-baby) to you and Tim because you are the right and best parents for them. It wouldn't be right for you to raise them the way someone else would because that wouldn't be being true to yourself.

    I think we all need to be little more understanding and nicer about differences. I think it's awesome you still nurse Theo and lay to sleep with him. I haven't met an attached child who is spoiled and unruly. Honestly, it's usually the kids that feel neglected you are spoiled and unruly.

    Keep going what you are doing and no that it is really no ones business what you decide. (and i wouldn't want it to be any other way)

  5. I started reading the book, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers." Something I really liked about the book is that the author starts out the book by saying that if the only "problem" that you and your child are having with sleep is that other people are telling you the way you do it is wrong, then you don't actually have a problem! I thought that was cool and definitely agree!

    I just blogged about this too!

  6. I'm so excited to start these things: the long nursing relationship, the bed sharing and night waking, the babywearing...I want to savor the babyhood while it lasts.

  7. This hits reallly close to home for me. I loved having Jude in our bed, but we just transitioned him to a crib. As much as I hated those first nights of tears and as much as I miss cuddling with him at night, it is better for all of us. I thought he would be in our bed forever (and I admit, I wouldn't mind having him in my bed forever) but things change and evolve and it just happened.
    The point is, you talk a lot about your parenting ways, but I would remember that your ways and my ways and their ways are all different- just like how evey child is different, every parenting situation is unique to that child. The only thing that matters is doing what works in the best interest of you and your family. I respect you and I love what a strong woman you are, but sometimes you too can be condescending when it comes to parenting. All us moms out there are just trying to do what's best!